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In a 2023 report released by Honeywell, 90% of employees saw a direct link between indoor air quality (IAQ) and their health. Workers are trusting employers and building managers to maintain a healthy indoor environment and they’ve taken action, ranking energy evolution and efficiency as top sustainability priorities.
This responsibility also falls on contractors, architects, and engineers who are in a position to make meaningful changes that can have a big impact on indoor air quality.
Natural ventilation utilizes forces like pressure and wind to push fresh air through a building. Commercial spaces are typically mechanically ventilated with fans, and it can be challenging to add natural ventilation. One solution is incorporating security grilles or perforated slat doors.Unlike traditional slat doors, security grilles and fenestrated or perforated slat doors let in natural light and enable air flow between spaces. Applied to interior openings, doors and grilles act as dividers that provide security, cross-ventilation, and aesthetic emphasis. On exteriors, security grilles and perforated slat doors reduce the risk of mold growth with high-speed operation.
Natural ventilation is more economical, more energy efficient, and by design invites more natural light in. It gives you a high air-change rate at a lower cost and is easy to maintain.
Mechanical ventilation systems use a system of fans and ducts to force stagnant air out and bring fresh air in. This type of ventilation system makes it easier to control indoor temperature and the amount and source of airflow. Contractors and building managers have a variety of systems to choose from based on local climate and a building’s existing heating and cooling method.
Mechanical ventilation can help ease allergies and asthma symptoms and inhibit condensation and moisture. While there are a ton of advantages, mechanical ventilation systems are expensive to install and maintain. If the system isn’t kept properly, it can become a big contributor to the spread of infectious diseases in a building.
Hybrid Ventilation systems combine natural and mechanical ventilation features. It can switch between natural and mechanical ventilation to match changing conditions like temperature and seasons. Hybrid ventilation systems use smart technology to save energy and create a comfortable environment. With the two systems working together, buildings experience higher indoor air quality (IAQ) levels and reap the benefits of having one of the most sustainable ventilation systems available.
Hybrid systems need to be implemented in the planning phase of a remodel or new construction project. Because the system is complex, architects and design teams need to be on the same page. Buildings with these systems need to be airtight, and in this case, your team will need to spec robust insulated rolling doors to seal up openings.
There are some barriers to adding hybrid ventilation, and one of those surprisingly isn’t cost. Since hybrid ventilation is relatively new, there isn’t a lot of information out there on the subject. HVAC engineers don’t always have the knowledge, rules, or tools to complete these projects. The good news is, there are no standards or regulations preventing the use of hybrid ventilation.
As more and more studies confirm the importance of improved air quality, it is the responsibility of developers, designers, and contractors to be mindful of creating more physically fit structures. Thinking strategically about airflow and ventilation will afford healthier buildings for generations to come.